Noah’s Super Secret Marketing Tip: Do Nothing

11 commentsJuly 25, 2006 - Get free updates of new posts here
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I think this is my most powerful marketing tip yet. “Dude has Noah lost it since he left for Korea?” Possibly, maybe it’s all the kimchi I’ve been eating. Let me try to explain myself a little better and you can let me know what you think.

What are some of the most well-known and successful companies today?


In-n-Out:
For all the people on the West coast you know exactly what I am talking about. Animal style, fresh cut fries and a delicious shake makes my day and me fatter.

Google: Yes you all know them, love them and probably use them more than you shower.

Skype: The great tool that connects the world digitally.

Harvard University: The most prestigious university in the world. With an endowment fund $20 billion + and an amazing alumni base, you can’t deny their dominance. A close second is Berkeley=)

Okay, what do these things have in common and why did Noah (yes, third person reference) list them? They are hugely successful, have great reputations and their services/products work really well. What am I saying?

Companies that have great products will market themselves. When have you seen an In-n-Out frequent burger card? Never! A Google banner advertisement on a site. Nopes! Some smiling kids on TV telling you to go to Harvard. Nada!

I know I am oversimplifying the process but creating a useful/amazing product will have people talking about it for you. Yes, I know these companies are edge cases and you may hate on me. The point I am really trying to get across is sometimes having great marketing can’t make up for a shitty product. Maybe stop thinking about how to get the word out and create something people will love to use.

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11 responses to “Noah’s Super Secret Marketing Tip: Do Nothing

  1. Nick Gavronsky Reply

    I agree. People who love a company or a product will do a lot of marketing for that company or product, even more so if they dislike the product or service. That’s why creating a great product and service is the key to creating a loyal customer base that will spread the word for you.

  2. Jp Reply

    These companies are conducting marketing, but they know how to do it so that they have lower costs and effort. Word of mouth and reputation are their biggest drivers and they know how to work it very efficiently and effectively.

    In-n-Out actually markets pretty heavily in southern california using radio advertising. Not a day would go by where I would hear 1-3 ads from them.

    Harvard University doesn’t market its undergrad operations very much, but its grad school admissions places advertisements in many business magazines.

    What is also important about all of these companies is the publicity they generate. They’re the ones that people want to interview, write about, etc. And they don’t have to pay a thing.

  3. Ari Mir Reply

    Noah,

    I couldn’t agree more. The time we have spent on marketing has not produced results. But the more time we spend simplifying our product and working on viral product features, the more users sign up.

    If you have a chance please take mojungle.com for a test drive. I would appreciate any feedback.

  4. mroonie Reply

    This tip definitely helps! I am currently working as a marketing intern for a startup company and our product is fairly new and still somewhat underdeveloped. This defintiely helps me to refocus on what’s important as we strategize different viral marketing campaigns, promotions, etc…..

    Check us out if you get a chance at essentialsecurity.com Like Ari Mir, we too would like some feedback!

  5. Mike Sabat Reply

    Noah,

    Ah!! Very good post and some good points, but…

    I think you really mean to say that google, harvard etc. became large, successful and well known without advertising. They spend an enormous amount of time on marketing- at least on that often overlooked and most important of “P’s” – Product.

    I’m not trying to split hairs, but its a huge problem with marketers today. They see themselves as advertisers. And in this age most marketing SHOULD be done in the product. Markets jsut don’t believe in advertising as much anymore.

  6. the other Noah Reply

    This sounds like one of the big points that Seth Godin pushes: the key to marketing is creating something worth talking about by fostering the story that people want to share. That translates pretty well to either fostering experiences with the business that create these stories for people, or in having honest-to-goodness interesting features that’s worth talking about. Of course, they’re all related — he spoke at Google and pointed out how 1 GB of space on Gmail was just that: brilliant marketing, and not just functionality. Look his name up on video.google.com, the whole on-campus speech was on there. A rather good watch, even if you disagree with the man.

  7. Michael Morisy Reply

    How often do I see ads for Google? Every time I see a site with GoogleAds, nice and small but there: Ads by GOOOOOGLE. Or every time I see google branded search on a third-party site, or ads for the Firefox google toolbar. By being the avenue for many everyday activities, Google has gotten premium advertising spots at a cut-rate prices or free. It’s hard to find a site out there that DOESN’T have google on it. How did google get really big? By providing search to Yahoo! They didn’t have to pay for it, but it was still marketing.

    And Harvard does much of their same. Their school’s PR department puts out dozens of releases, plants dozens of stories with major newspaper EVERY SINGLE DAY. How often do you go to CNN or NYTimes and not see some mention of Harvard somewhere? The reporter didn’t go out and knock on professors doors to find it: They were pitched it by some of the best PR men in the business, which costs a lot of money but is incredibly effective in cementing an image in the publics mind, because News still has somewhat better credibility then bought ads.

    And if you think Harvard doesn’t spend a lot on recruiting top undergrads … well, talk to someone who had good SATs and they probably lined their walls with the free promotional schwag Harvard sent: postcards, letters, dvds, not to mention online tours, in person tours, flights all across America for presentations, scholarships …

    It’s all marketing, just clever marketing.

  8. Alberen Reply

    Noah,
    Forget all the other stuff. You are 100% right on.
    Your bottom line premise is right on… none of these products would be where they are if they weren’t excllent.
    People throw all kinds of money at a bad product hoping marketing will do what marketing can never do… marketing will never make a bad product good…AND to muddy it up…marketing will never make people say good things about a bad experience they’ve had.

  9. LostFlier Reply

    Ari and Mroonie are brave people…. what if bloggers review their websites and tear them up and spit them out?

    I would not do that to anyone unless I had given them a chance to repsond and they did not respond favorably (like I just did Circuit City.)

    But do bloggers do that? Will they tear a company apart they don’t know anything about?

    Thats one difference between “old line” marketing and “viral” marketing. The internet makes it much easier to chew a company up.

    So what do most bloggers do if they review a site and don’t like it? Is there a way they would handle that?

  10. noah kagan Reply

    I knew people would disagree and that is what I LOVE!

    Lostflier, one thing I think most online writers aka bloggers (I hate the term) miss is that MAINSTREAM America, your parents, friends, dogs, brothers, etc.. Don’t care nor read about what we say or hate on. A few of the bloggers will bitch or complain but no one knows Techcrunch or my new hatred for Circuit City. One thing to think about though is if I am complaining about them, you wrote negative about them and other bloggers do the same. Think about how many other people haven’t voiced that hatred online or have done it informally among friends. They need to do something, NOW!

    Michael, I love your response and definitely agree. Not much to say against it except a lot of marketing goes unnoticed. It is like how Microsoft has 50,000+ people working there asses off but who gets recognition for the good or bad. The CEO.

    I semi-agree about the Harvard piece, I think they do marketing but it is definitely targetted marketing and they don’t send pamphlet to everyone.

    Also, for Google think about if Yahoo used them for search results and the results were shitty. Do you think you would still be using Google today?